The Importance of Setting in Jack Londons "To Build a Fire" and Kate Chopins "The Storm"

1473 Words Nov 24th, 2011 6 Pages
A good writer’s depiction of setting positions the reader right into the story. In "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, the setting plays a significant role throughout the entire short story. London uses certain techniques to establish the atmosphere of the story. By introducing his readers to the setting, prepares them for a tone that is depressed and frightening. Isolated by the hostile environment of the Yukon in sub-freeing temperatures, a man falls victim to the unrelenting and unforgiving power of nature, London shows us how the main character of the story is completely unaware of his surroundings. The only world the man is truly accustomed to is his own. Never being exposed to such a harsh climate draws one to conclude that the …show more content…
But, we realize almost immediately, the man has only a superficial knowledge of the Arctic. As he stands on a bank of the Yukon about to plunge into an almost absolute wilderness, he has little or no understanding either of his immense isolation relative to his surroundings or of the extreme danger posed by the cold snap. But all of this, London comments at the beginning of the third paragraph, "The mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all, made no impression on the man." Thus, the man also knows, in addition to the fact the sun will reappear, that it is fifty degrees below zero, but he does not know the meaning of this fact, it portends death for anyone who makes himself vulnerable to its ability to kill. "Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head." During his journey, the man gets his feet wet as he falls through the ice into the water of a hot spring. Because of the severity of the cold, the man’s life depends upon his ability to adapt to his surroundings. After one, half-successful fire-starting endeavor, and several other pitiful attempts, the hopelessness of the man’s lone struggle
Open Document